Local council reports reveal true extent of nightmare no-deal Brexit

The offices of Shetland Island Council (Pic: Google)

Councils across the UK are drafting emergency plans for delivering public services after a nightmare no-deal Brexit, it has emerged.

A Sky News report revealed yesterday that Dover District Council and Kent County Council are preparing for a 13-mile Brexit lorry park on the M20 southbound to be in place for at least four years.

Similar concerns from councils the length and breadth of the UK have now emerged over how to provide food, social care, medicines and border controls, and about potential "social unrest".

Anglesey, home to Holyhead port, is one of several port authorities also concerned about a need for lorry parking after Brexit, Sky News found.

Pembrokeshire County Council's risk register details how new border controls "may affect the ready availability of vital supplies", including food and medicine.

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The risk register also warns of "increased bad debt" due to a "widely predicted economic downturn" and "continued austerity", as well as a threat to existing and future EU-funded regeneration programmes.

A Shetland Islands Council document focuses on farming, with a dramatic rise forecast in loss-making sheep farms - from 50% now to 86% in a no-deal Brexit - due to tariffs on lamb.

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Bristol City Council warns of a "top-line threat" of "social unrest or disillusionment during/after negotiations as neither Leave nor Remain voters feel their concerns are being met".

East Sussex County Council was among several authorities expressing concern about the impact on the provision of social care after Brexit.

Sky News also found almost all councils expressed significant concern about how the Treasury will replace crucial EU structural and regional funds - particularly now the PM has promised any money that might materialise after Brexit to the NHS.

Another common feature is exasperation that councils do not know what to plan for as they wait for the government to agree a deal.

Eloise Todd, CEO of the campaign group Best for Britain, which is calling for a second referendum, said: "It beggars belief that with only 240 days left until Article 50 expires, local councils have been left in the lurch. This is a national crisis and a severe dereliction of duty by central government.

"Theresa May needs to stop messing the country about so that these councils can focus on providing the important work they do. She needs to negotiate her Brexit deal and put it to the country to decide, with the option to stay in our current deal with the EU on the table. At the end of the day, it's the most vulnerable that will suffer through the knock-on effect to public services and social care. "The government should be ashamed. They've let Britain down."

Local Government Association Brexit Taskforce chairman Kevin Bentley said exiting the EU would have a "significant impact" on councils.

He said: "Councils up and down the country are taking a lead on preparations for Brexit because our residents and our local businesses expect us to be ready.

"These documents represent councils preparing for what the practical implications of a Brexit negotiation may be.

"Brexit will ultimately be judged as a success or failure by localities - real people in real communities.

"That's why we are working with government and engaging with the expertise of local government to ensure we get these crucial negotiations right for local communities."

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